Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Most Common Paradigm for Apostasy As Also Related to Making Decisions and Having Discernment

"Apostate" and "apostasy" are technical terms not found in the Bible, but they are in common use through church history to describe turning from the faith to various degrees.  In general, it is viewed as complete turning from the faith, as done by an unsaved person and proving that he is not saved (1 John 2:19).  Jesus said that those who are His disciples will continue in His Word (John 8:31) and that His sheep will hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:27).

Turning away completely is apostasy, which means someone isn't saved, never was saved in the first place, so didn't continue in the faith.  When I say "various degrees" of apostasy, I mean that someone can turn from something he once believed for whatever reason, but is still saved.  This is a more difficult concept, because the question arises, "Does an actual true, genuine Christian turn away from anything that God says?"  And perhaps another, "Isn't a person who lives in perpetual sin unsaved?"  Any unrepentant sin merits church discipline in the New Testament, where someone is regarded as a heathen man and a publican (Matthew 18:17).

A lot is changing in professing Christianity today in whatever realm someone might want to characterize genuine Christianity, evangelicalism or fundamentalism.  Do these changes represent the changes of saved people, where now they aren't obeying scripture as they once were, or these are just unbelievers?  This is a tough call, but also a common question.  We're not saved by doing good works, but by grace, and yet on the other hand, grace isn't a means of disobeying what God said.

For the sake of this post, I'm going to say that there are saved people, who are just not practicing like they once did.  The biggest crowd of these are millennials or perhaps we could call them younger people.  They still believe in Jesus Christ for salvation.  They would still say they want to live for the Lord.  They still believe the Bible is the Word of God. However, they don't practice the same way as the previous generation and this is happening all over the place.  To put this into the above discussion, are these saved people?  I'm going to say, yes, for the sake of this post, but I wouldn't want to be in their shoes.  The Bible doesn't change, God doesn't change, so the change could be apostasy.  Perhaps someone just needs to wait and see.

I'm making room for a partial apostasy still being saved, because of the churches in the New Testament, where they were not practicing like Paul wanted according to his epistles and Jesus expected according to His letters delivered to seven churches in Asia.  Did the changes at Corinth, ones of which Paul did not approve, constitute not being saved?  Did the changes at Ephesus or Pergamos or Thyatira mean a departure from the faith totally?  It did at Laodicea, we know (Revelation 3:14-22), but it's tough to know to what extent the people were unsaved in the other six, where Jesus disapproved.

Again, salvation is not something to mess around with, so we shouldn't give people a false sense of security about salvation, if they have departed from some orthodox belief and practice, while holding on to a profession of faith.  Today, I think, that millennials are banking on the notion that they still have reached the low bar, a minimal threshold, to count as salvation without having to live all the stuff that they don't like.  They are changing Christianity very often to the degree that it isn't even Christianity any more, and they don't care, as long as they're happy with it.  Does that sound like saved people?  It's difficult for me to say, yes, that sounds like Christianity to me.

This has all been introduction so far, but the way I believe the apostasy is occurring, saved or not saved, has taken on the following steps, which I'm calling the most common paradigm for apostasy.  I'm going to write them in the second person for someone reading to apply to himself.
  1. You want to live like you want.
  2. You want acceptance of that lifestyle.
  3. You recruit validation from like-minded people.
  4. You destroy or scorched-earth the source of the former belief and practice to justify your leaving for the new.
This paradigm fits 2 Peter, an epistle with apostasy as its theme, as Peter describes lust as the impetus for the apostasy (2:10, 18; 3:3).  You can't say "no" to what you want, so you look for those who will accept the lifestyle.  Those churches and people are available.  They have already conformed Christianity to their lusts, just like Darwinism conformed science to lust, eliminating a Creator.  You can find people will approve of what you are doing, but it doesn't stop there.  If you can't get acceptance from your former church or authority, you destroy it.  You might find enough to discredit it with the approval of your new belief and practice.

You should notice that the paradigm doesn't start with God's Word.  It doesn't begin with revealed truth.  It doesn't look to historical faith and practice, already established among the saints.  Jesus said, "Thy Word is truth" (John 17:17).  Scripture is the basis for truth, not feelings or lust.  Feelings or lust should be doubted in favor of scripture.  Any legitimate, biblical change, what is sanctification, will start with the preaching or study of the Word of God.  This doesn't happen with the most common paradigm of apostasy.

Since scripture isn't the authority, decisions are made based upon lust.  Scripture conforms to the lust.  If you read 2 Peter 2, you can see this as the pattern.  I'd ask you to read that whole chapter.  Feelings and lust take the preeminence, not God or His Word.  Paul describes this as "the course of this world" (Eph 2:2).  Since decisions and lifestyle are not proven based upon scripture, you lack discernment or wisdom.  You make regular decisions that look no different than an unsaved person, so you are making decisions like unsaved people make them.

The reason you think decision-making based on lust is fine is because you have gathered around you a group (a community) of people who validate you and that way of making decisions.  You've joined a group like that and then recruited others.  Many professing Christians are prey to usefulness toward apostasy.  They don't want to hurt someone's feelings and their silence reads like acceptance.  They might think they are helping because they themselves get approval for their acceptance.  This is a form of lust itself or related pride.

A common advocate for lust perverts the grace of God, what Peter and Jude call turning grace into lasciviousness.  You think that's the grace of God.  It isn't.  It's the apostatizing of biblical doctrine or practice or just the general apostasy of an unsaved person.

I've written recently how that uncertainty and doubt are crucial in the most common paradigm of apostasy (here).  The critics of your lust are classified as proud because of their total certainty, which means they don't allow liberty to practice Christianity in the preferred areas of doubt.  What was once certain in Christianity has been shifted to uncertain to make room for lust.

The lust shapes one's view of God.  He conforms to lust.  The lust can't but help do that.  God becomes like a goody-meister, there to fulfill your wishes.  He requires very little but fills your stocking with what you desire.  That's who he is.  This is a kind of blasphemy of God, but acceptable to both give you what you want and also give you eternal salvation.  You've got a new "god" in your mind who allows you to live like you want, but he isn't really "God," but "god."  It is the apostasy of the truth of genuine Christianity.  At what point has this dipped below a threshold of salvation?  I'm not sure, but I don't want it.  Even if it doesn't damn someone, it results in regular bad decision making and diminishing discernment.

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